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“Be who you are and stop caring what other people think.” “Go with the crowd and try to fit in.” Have you ever stopped to think about these phrases and what they mean to you? Most people either want to fit in or they want to stand out and show their individualism. Either way, when it comes down to it, everyone needs other people that share their same likes, dislikes and/or beliefs. Today’s church services are a lot like that in the sense that they are constantly being re-molded to gain society’s approval. When you see celebrities in rehab or dying because they let fame and money take over, we pity them. We have sympathy. Alternatively, when Christians choose a life of moral and self-restrictions, people tend to turn up their noses. There are negative labels put on Christians when we exercise our beliefs. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” John 15:18-20 NIV I always go back to this verse when I am having a hard time with something. It’s difficult not to question God sometimes, but it’s crucial that you hold onto your faith, instead of trying to contort it into something it’s not. I don’t respect intolerance and I don’t believe that our job is to judge or persecute others for their beliefs either, though. They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:6-8 It’s a fine line between holding Christian beliefs and living the way that we want. Do you ever have a hard time believing God’s Word?


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TN SignA Recap of ISC 2011 and Plans for ISC 2012 in Memphis, TN

Shelby Systems held its annual International Shelby Conference (ISC) in San Antonio, TX this past June. The conference brings together current and potential customers who want to learn more about using our software at their churches and share ideas with Shelby staff members and other users from across the country.  Participants not only gain valuable information they can use on the job, but earn CPE and CEU credits in the process. ISC 2011 was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on San Antonio’s famed River Walk and turned out to be another huge success for us. While there, customers benefitted from a variety of classes, speakers, performers, one-on-one training sessions, vendor demos and more.  They also heard an update from Shelby CEO, Frank Canady, on the company’s future plans and direction. “My favorite part was learning how Shelby can take our church into the future,” said Christina Andrews, Office Manager at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, TX. Ryan Fonseca, a Worship Leader at Wayside Chapel in San Antonio, TX, led a time of praise on Wednesday morning that got everyone on their feet and helped to kick off another great Shelby conference. Multiple Dove Award winner and two-time Grammy nominee, Nicole C. Mullen, gave an electrifying performance during Thursday morning’s assembly. Session speakers included experienced trainers and staff as well as names recognizable in the not-for-profit industry.  Dan Busby, the President of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, addressed several groups, as did Donna Lively, Director of Insurance Solutions and Services at GuideStone Financial Resources. Also participating were Elaine Sommerville, a CPA focusing on nonprofit organizations in areas of tax compliance, and her husband, Attorney Frank Sommerville. Linda Highbarger, Finance Director at Central Christian Church in Wichita, KS, said, “I enjoyed having instructors who know and use Shelby and have practical experience so they understand the issues churches encounter.” Planning for the 2012 International Shelby Conference (ISC) is already under way. Next year, Shelby brings the conference home to Memphis, TN at the Memphis Marriott Downtown. ISC is an annual event that offers new and experienced users the opportunity to learn more about the software tools they use in their ministries, discover ways to be more effective in what they do, and network with other Shelby users. For more information, please contact the Shelby Events Department by phone at (800) 654-1605 or email at .

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Take a look at our Skype video interview with Steve Hewitt, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, of Christian Computing Magazine. Steve will share what he taught in his very popular “What’s Hot and What’s Coming” class at ISC 2011. Discover the latest trends in mobile computing, why the tablet is so hot right now, the hidden dangers of cell phone tracking, why RFID tags are a concern, and listen for Steve’s #1 tip for utilizing cutting-edge technology in your ministry.

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I was slow to catch up on my blog reading last week and when I finally got into a few of the posts from the Stuff Christians Like blog, I was really intrigued. The writer of the blog, Jon Acuff, was doing a giveaway for one lucky church staff member who wanted to win $600 worth of small group materials. The materials were coming from the website, Only144.com, that sets up great deals for church workers and volunteers. Their deals last 144 hours and they each cost $144. The current offer includes 3 small group packages from Mark Driscoll’s Love Life, Tommy Nelson’s Song of Solomon and Matt Chandler’s Philippians. Be sure to tell your friends and co-workers about Only144.com so that they can take part in the great deals. Do you know of any other great sites that would be useful to Christians? What are they?

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We are exhibiting at the AG General Council in Phoenix, AZ this year and are so excited to experience it for the first time. The event will be held at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, AZ, August 2-5. There are over 30,000 attendees expected and Shelby will be sending four of our own to answer any and all church software questions. We will also be discussing what our software does and how it can be beneficial to your church or nonprofit. If you are planning on going, please stop by and say hello. We will be in booths 1220 and 1222!!

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Shelby’s v.5.11.1000 Full Update is a complete software installation of all programs and workstation files and is now available! Year-end Tax and Form updates will be provided for v.5.10 and v.5.11. Click here to login for the full revision list.
Here are some of the major changes:
  • General Ledger: The following new columns have been added to the Account Information Budget grid:  Current Budget, Prior Year Budget, 12 Months Actuals, Current Actuals, Prior Year Actuals, and Prior Year Actuals 2x. Fund/Department totals have also been added to the bottom of the screen based on the row that a user selects on the grid.
  • Check In: Users can now send a text message to any and all guardians associated with the selected individual in Inquiry.
  • Payroll: There is now an option to mask Social Security Numbers (SSN) on the State and Local Taxes, Unemployment, and Workers Compensation reports.
If you have any questions, please contact Shelby Systems Support at (888) 697-4352 or .


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Steve Hewitt, founder of Christian Computing Magazine (CCMag), has announced the first five inductees into the Christian Computing Hall of Fame, an honor given to those who helped pave the way for churches using technology. We are so proud to have our founder, Ernie Hamilton, highlighted in this month’s cover story after being chosen as one of the first five. Hamilton started Shelby Systems in 1976 after establishing a data processing center at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the 1970’s. He saw the need for churches to have an easier and more organized way to manage their membership and financial data so he developed the first church and nonprofit software. Here is a snippet of what is said about Hamilton’s passion for helping churches:
His legacy not only includes being a pioneer in Church Management Software, but in the way he managed Shelby. His life was committed to helping churches use technology to increase and enhance ministry.
Check out the article in CCMag’s July issue here.
						

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Surprised GirlYou spend all day organizing events, managing finances, recording membership data… and all for what? For your church’s success, of course. For growth, for better community outreach, for better organization. What you do each day is important to so many people, and the way to stay relevant with those people is to keep them involved and to keep the church growing. The question that needs to be asked is, “What reaction is my church looking for?” Goals and visions for the future are necessary, but if your church isn’t sure of its perception or what kind of mark to make on the community, then the goals and visions are incomplete. Take a more contemporary and laid back church, for example. The reaction might be that this church is more comfortable and inviting than the average church. Being more conservative and formal might make people feel like they are getting a more serious, hard-hitting sermon on Sunday mornings. Both churches have their pros and cons, but it can be rather difficult, if not impossible, to be both. The idea of being the cool and relaxed church can fall to pieces if there are strict rules on dress or social activities. The look and feel of one part of the church needs to flow with the rest of the church, all while keeping Christ at the center. So ask your staff and volunteers, “What reaction are we looking for?” and use those answers to form a new vision that can make that happen. You’ll never be the “respected, straight-shooting” church if you don’t stick to your guns, right? How does your church work to build its reputation?


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Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the past few months, the final movie in the Harry Potter series came out last weekend. I don’t have the statistics on the number of people who are still opposed to the franchise, but I want to take today’s post and highlight a few things that I have gathered in my 10 year following of Harry Potter. I haven’t read past book two but my husband has read them all and we have seen every movie… and if you are doubting me because I am a Harry Potter fan, I am writing this just for you. (There are a few spoilers in this so please stop reading now if you are planning on seeing the movie.) Wizards, magic, ghosts, flying broomsticks, strange creatures, far off lands, violence… it’s all there. J.K. Rowling tells a story of a young boy whose life was spared by the most powerful and evil wizard to ever exist. That wizard, named Voldemort, had killed Harry’s family, but since Harry’s mother had sacrificed her life to save his, Harry lived. Voldemort’s power was weakened by this, and being one who feared death over anything else, Voldemort decided to cast a spell that would split his soul into seven pieces of tangible items, called horcruxes. Now I know what a lot of you are thinking… the idea of having the most evil wizard controling his own destiny sounds a little blasphemous, but that is why he ultimately fails. He cannot defeat the power of good. While at a school called Hogwarts, Harry encounters many battles, adventures and disturbing situations while being pursued by Voldemort, who wants his revenge.  To top it off, there is a wand, known as the Elder Wand,  that holds the most powerful magic in the world… and it has ended up in Voldemort’s hands. This wand is so powerful that it’s master cannot be killed while holding it. In the end, it is all up to Harry (and his friends) to destroy each of the horcruxes and to get the Elder Wand out of Voldemort’s possession. How is all of this relevant to religion? When Oprah interviewed J.K. Rowling a few months ago, the talk show queen asked her what she thought of all the naysayers (specifically the Christians) who opposed the books. Her response really stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing, but she told Oprah that she had only written the books to be fun and to give children a chance to really use their imagination. She did point out, however, that she added a lot of Christian symbolism into the stories. Snakes that represent evil, a good wizard that sacrifices himself to save others, an evil wizard that is still mortal no matter how hard he tries not to be, a battle between good and evil, the strength and power that comes from love and friendship, the purity of the unicorn… it’s all there. In the end, Harry stands around with his friends after he has defeated Voldemort and they ask what he will do now that he is the master of the most powerful wand in the world. He looks at them, breaks it in half and throws it over his shoulder. Harry tells them that it is time to give the wand back to Death himself, for it was his in the first place. My thinking during this scene was, “You can’t try to play God. Possessing magic that powerful can never be fully understood or controlled.” If you haven’t seen the movies or read any of the books, I really recommend checking them out! What do you think of the Harry Potter franchise? Would you recommend it or advise church members to avoid it?